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Old Mar 31, 2004, 2:37 PM   #1
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Default Cards & Readers: Sequential Read and Random Access

Hello,

I would like to introduce my overview over memory card readers and memory cards and the resulting transfer rates and random access times:
http://www.hjreggel.net/digiphoto/speed.html

Right now the overview is based on card readers and cards I own, and some cards borrowed from friends. This all started as my personal search for a fast card reader for my notebook. Up to now my enquiries for product samples were not successful, so don't expect the list to grow fast.

I will update the list whenever I get the chance to test another card and/or card reader, and will report here if there is a significant update.

I know that there are similar overviews, but I don't know of any detailed cross-reference as given in the above list. One project that deserves very special attention is Rob Galbraith's CF Database:
http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/mul...?cid=6007-6133

Hans-Jürgen
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Old Apr 4, 2004, 10:06 AM   #2
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Default Added: ICY BOX 8-in-1 IB-801

Hello,

I have added the ICY BOX 8-in-1 IB-801 reader to my overview:
http://www.hjreggel.net/digiphoto/speed.html

The new model offers supprt for xD Picture Card, the performance is the same. So, owners of the IB-701: Don't panic!

Hans-Jürgen
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Old Apr 28, 2004, 2:20 PM   #3
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Default Update: Lexar RW020, Hitachi 4GB MD, Panasonic SD 512MB

Hello,

it's been quite a while since my last update, but now I've got some news:
http://www.hjreggel.net/digiphoto/speed.html

The support from the manufacturers is not that thrilling right now. In the meantime I bought some toys because of personal interest, but on my own expenses:

- Lexar RW020 USB 2.0 CompactFlash Reader
- Creative MuVo2 4GB with 4GB Hitachi Microdrive
- Panasonic 512MB SD-Card RP-SDH512

Besides that, I had two changes for my overview:

After the tests with the ICY BOX 701/801 and the DeLOCK, I decided to add the manufacturer and type of the controller to the reader overview. At least for those readers where I can identify the controller.

The cross-reference of the test results only shows average read and access, the minimum and maximum values are included only in the test details linked from there.


Some comments concerning the test results:

The Lexar RW020 has a different controller, but shows almost the same results as the ICY BOX and DeLOCK readers. I will verify the test results using an appropriate PC to cross-check my test results.

The Hitachi microdrive shows the usual regular media zone pattern inside the MuVo2 and with the Delkin CardBus adapter. But none of the other readers is able to reproduce all media zones at their maximum rate. But this is still much more than the trasfer rates of the "other" microdrive.
The good news is that none of the readers had problems powering the drive.

The 512MB Panasonic SD card confirmed the results measured using the 256MB model. While both, the SanDisk Ultra II and the Transcend SD cards have ramdom access performace worse than the microdrives(!), the Panasonic SD cards show excellent values.


What's next?

Currently I am developing my own test tools. I plan to add:
- Write rate
- Read rate
- Data integrity check (write and verify)

That's it for now. I have to take care of my photos and study Win32 API.

Hans-Jürgen
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Old May 17, 2004, 2:09 PM   #4
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Hello,

I've got some news:

- Anubis Typhoon 8 in 1 (81035)
- Anubis Typhoon 9 in 1 (81036)
- PixoMedia MSR-14

Besides that, I am adding the test results of my own test tool step by step.

http://www.hjreggel.net/digiphoto/speed.html

Please note that the write/read/verify tests take 2-3 hours on a 4GB media, so please be patient. It will take some time until I can fill up all those empty boxes...

Here's a picture of some of my "contestants":
http://www.hjreggel.net/digiphoto/speed/Readers.jpg

Hans-Jürgen
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Old May 17, 2004, 9:03 PM   #5
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Hello,

Here is my testing results for SmartMedia Card and my view on how smart guys are fulishing us (customers) with USB-2 Card Readers capability.

------------------------------------------------------------------
Recently I tested my new 6 in 1 USB2 Card Reader from SanDisk and found one interesting thing I missed before the purchase.

My settings for the test:

SanDisk SmartMedia Card 128 MB.
Pentium III - 800MHz with USB-2 and USB-1 ports.
OLYMPUS USB-1 Card Reader.
SanDisk USB-2 Card Reader.

The information for the reference I received from SanDisk:

> > SmartMedia card speed:
> > Read: 3.5MB/sec
> > Write: 500KB-1MB/sec (variable)
> > USB 1.1 ports have a shared bandwidth of 1.5 MB/sec.
> > USB 2.2 ports have a shared bandwidth of 60 MB/sec.

My thoughts and the results:

USB 1.1 port is limited by 1.5MB/sec bandwidth, but Read operation for SmartMedia card can be performed at 3.5MB/sec. The bottleneck here is a USB 1.1 port. By using USB 2.0 card we are shifting our bottleneck to SmartMedia card itself, and can perform Read operation with the max SmartMedia card speed 3.5MB/sec. It is 3.5/1.5 = 2.33 times faster.

==============================================
> OLYMPUS Card Reader on original USB-1 port:
>
> Read = 2.30 / Write = 4.38;
> ==============================================
> SanDisk 6 in 1 Card Reader plugged intoUSB-2 port:
>
> Read = 0.59 / Write = 4.23;
> ==============================================

The read operation from USB 1.1 to USB 2.0 improved by 2.30/0.59 = 2.3 times.

Look like 2.3x is the max improvement we can get for the SmartMedia card by changing USB 1.1 to USB 2.0 (for Read operation).

For the write operation the bottleneck is SmartMedia card itself for both USB 1.1 and USB 2.0.

Look like we should not expect any improvement for the Write operation by switching from USB 1.1 to USB 2.0.

My conclusion:

USB-2 interface is 40 times faster, than USB-1, but do not expect such improvement by switching from USB-1 based Card Reader to USB-2 based Card Reader. The limitation is Flash Card itself.

The fastest Flash Card on the market has up to 7MB/sec transfer rate. It is far from USB-2 60MB/sec!!!


Thank you,

Andrei.
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Old May 18, 2004, 6:36 AM   #6
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Hi Andrei,

besides the fact that you mixed up almost all figures, numbers and digits in your post, SmartMedia are ancient history. It is a known fact that SmartMedia are awfully slow for writing.

There are CF cards available that hit the 11MB/s mark. And the upcoming Lexar 80x will write at least 12MB/s. We should be lucky that USB 2.0offers enough headroom for future specs.

The sad part of the whole story about card readers and cards is that most of the USB 2.0 readers don't deliver the full speed of regular CF cards. Not to speak of fast cards.

Hans-Jürgen
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Old May 26, 2004, 5:34 PM   #7
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Hello,

I did not manage to finish all the write tests for the cards I have available right now, but the most important test results are finished:

http://www.hjreggel.net/digiphoto/speed.html

I have to leave on a short trip and will be back in a week.

Hans-Jürgen
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Old May 26, 2004, 9:47 PM   #8
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stevewrote:

Quote:
I like both the SanDisk 8-in-1 and the Lexar Multi-Card readers. Both are small, fully support USB 2.0 speeds and aren't too expensive - like under $40. And they both read nearly every type of card out there.

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2003_reviews/lexar_mcr-usb2.html

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2002_reviews/sandisk_6in1.html

-Steve
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Old May 26, 2004, 9:54 PM   #9
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Some more reviews here:

http://www.digit-life.com/storage.html#subsec216


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Old Jun 15, 2004, 4:30 PM   #10
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Hello,

after quite a while, here's some news. To make it short: After eight weeks of waiting, I received the 2GB SanDisk Ultra II CF card that I ordered right after the price drop. Almost at the same time I received the retec 10 in 1 USB 2.0 drive. Besides that. I split up my test results, because the page was about to hit 1MB file size. The new homepage is

http://www.hjreggel.net/cardspeed/

Now for the details. I'll start with the card reader:

The retec 10 in 1 comes in a nice package: An oval shape with three card slots. At first, it almost seems impossible to insert the cards. A little illustration would have worked wonders. But once you realize the slot layout and orientation, it's easy. The left two slots are one CF slot and a combined slot for SD/MM, SM, xD and MS. This is the same layout as for the ICY BOX 8 in 1 reader. The right slot is a special slot for the new mini-SD cards and Memory Stick Duo.
The card reader is built around the Genesys Logic GL816E controller, which shows much better performance as the GL816 (without the "E"). So don't confuse the two controller versions.
For CF cards in the middle range, it shows usual transfer rates. For the faster Transcend 30x and RiData 52x cards, it does not reach the speed of the competitors, but with the SanDisk Ultra II, it shows excellent transfer rates. But as a big surprise, it reads the Hitachi 4GB Microdrive at its full speed. Up to now, none of the USB 2.0 readers were able to cope with the full speed, the best were only able to read five of the nine media zones at full speed.
The second surprise was the tranfer rate with the Panasonic SD card. Here's we've got a new speed record: 8.78MB/s read and 5.40MB/s write performance. I'll run a test with the SanDisk Ultra II SD in a couple of days.

Now for the SanDisk Ultra II CF. Because of the runtime of the full test program (3 full write/read cycles, about 2-3 hours when using a slow reader), I only ran the tests with the fast and most promising card readers. The Anubis Typhon 9 in 1 is broke, so unfortunately I cannot provide the values for this reader. A direct comparison between the Genesys and the ICSI-Controller would be highly interesting, but it looks like the ICSI controller has little compatibility issues, too. What puzzled me when I looked at the test results was the poor random access performance of the SanDIsk Ultra II card: 11ms. Usual values are 1-2ms, the measured value is at 1/2 or 1/3 of typical values for microdrives. For a solid state memory, this is not fast at all.

OK, that's it for now. I will post the missing values during the next week, but I don't expect anything exciting from those tests.

Hans-Jürgen
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